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Steve Landesberg and the question of age

LandesbergThe Times' story on the death of Steve Landesberg said the comic actor "was believed to be 74" while other media outlets said he was 65.

Why the difference?

Details such as birth dates are often provided to obituary writers by family members. With actors and other public figures, the information also has often been printed and posted online. It's our job to confirm the information.

Landesberg's birth date was listed as Nov. 23, 1945, in biographical material and on such websites as Because Landesberg lived in California, The Times was able to check his voter registration information. It showed his birth date as Nov. 23, 1936.

The Times' editorial research library also has access to information from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. One of our librarians was able to confirm the birth date on Landesberg's driver's license as Nov. 23, 1936.

One thing we could not find was a mention of Landesberg's birth date in any newspaper stories written about him. Adding to our dilemma was a 1979 Washington Post profile in which Landesberg made it clear he didn't want anyone to know his age.

Landesberg's representatives were not able to confirm his age as we wrote the story Monday night, which is why we said he was "believed to be 74" and cited information from public records.

 -- Keith Thursby

Photo: Steve Landesberg in 2007. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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Comments (9)

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This type of research shows the difference between real journalists and bloggers who pretend to know the story. Congratulatinos on the legwork.

Sorry for the typo. It should have read:

This type of research shows the difference between real journalists and bloggers who pretend to know the story. Congratulations on the legwork.

He was concealing his age because he wanted to work in a profession/society that discriminates against older workers. Landesberg was intelligent and shrewd enough to assess that early in his career. I hope his "lie" didn't cause him undue internal damage. Dead men tell no lies.

I'm endlessly fascinated by the lies and subterfuges actors are forced to commit in order to be thought good enough to make pretty faces on a light box. I guess that for A-listers the lies are worth it, given how insanely overpaid they are for the ludicrously minuscule amount of work they do. But is the dishonesty worth it for character actors, who seem to work much harder for less money?

Mr. Landesberg knew what I discovered too late, when you state your age anywhere, it shows up everywhere. I also found that with IMDB you can't change or remove the date, and with so much ageism is in play in this business the less people know about you the better. The horrible truth? The age you are isn't nearly as important as the age people think you are and how they process that information when they make their decisions.

Jerry w.

It is so sad that we in the entertainment business are subjected to "age discrimination" on almost every level. Mr. Landesberg was right to conceal his real age from the bumbling casting directors and inept executives. But, since we're on the subject of "birth certificates"... can the always thorough L.A. Times dig up a actual paper copy of Mr. Obama's birth certificate? How about his college transcripts? Student loan applications?? Nah, that would be asking way too much...

We throw words like ageism around as if we are sociologists, when the term should be hypocrite.

No one 19 knows of ageism nor should they. They want a job and we've got a job. We all got the jobs of our elders and never said a peep until our age put our job in play.

We lie because we are liars. We want what we want and we want it NOW.

As to the wonderful Steve Landesberg. He was a talisman to ALL of us younger folk and there is no further testament to his magic than "Seinfeld".
The episode that built the Seinfeld shark was "The Chinese Restaurant".
And as an homage, or perhaps just for luck, Steve Landesberg is calm as life sitting in the background of the entire show.
All I can tell you is that he aged well.

I don't care what age he was - Steve Landesberg was one of the funniest men on television. Look for his Tonight Show spots - early to mid 80's and his stand-up was a riot. God Bless you, Steve!

If, as you say, thr LA Times already confirmed the age of Steve Landesberg as being 74, then it is incorrect to say that he was "believed" to be that age, when that was in act, his real age. Why do you need to confirm it with his agent, if you already had Landesberg's correct age from official records?


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